August/September 2016 (vol. 13/2)

ContentsFeaturesNewsLegal NewsResearch DigestResearch PlusCPD

Research Plus

PTSD risk for terror attack rescue workers

Professional rescue workers experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than unaffiliated volunteers dealing with the aftermath of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, when 77 people died following a car bomb and subsequent mass shooting at a youth camp. The study involved 1,790 people, including healthcare workers, police, fire-fighters, volunteers from voluntary rescue organisations and unaffiliated volunteers. Questionnaires were completed 10 months after the attacks. Prevalence of sub-threshold PTSD ranged from 1%–3% for the various professional and affiliated rescue personnel groups, but was 24% for unaffiliated volunteers; prevalence of possible PTSD was 0.2%–2% for professionals/affiliates and 15% for unaffiliated volunteers. Female gender, witnessing injured/ dead victims, perceived threat, perceived obstruction in rescue work, lower level of previous training and being an unaffiliated volunteer were associated with higher PTSS risk (p <0.001 for all comparisons). Previous work experience of similar tasks, training in similar tasks, sense of achievement and role clarity were associated with lower PTSS risk.


  1. Occupational Medicine 2016; online first: doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqw063.


Occupational Health at Work August/September 2016 (vol. 13/2) pp41